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How to manage a crisis in your business


In The Complete Negotiator, Gerard I. Nierenberg gives us nine points for managing in a crisis…

  • In a crisis, always sit down and think hard about your decision, and for as long as needed (or allowed) about ways in which you can resolve it.
  • It has to be you. That applies even if somebody else has to carry the burden of action – how you brief, direct, and control the other or others will be vital to the outcome.
  • In seeking a solution, look for a simple answer that you can apply, rather than a complex one that requires many hands.
  • Since you’re unlikely to get that answer by conventional thinking, try deliberately to be unconventional, original, lateral.
  • Part of the decision is how to use yourself. In any situation where you’re an unknown factor, what people know about you is what you choose to let them know – and that can be a powerful weapon on your side.
  • In a bad situation, don’t hesitate to use shock as a tool. It works much better than fright. But you must do something to bring home the urgency of the position.
  • Work in the knowledge that even in a good situation, operations can always be improved – and that those who are best placed and best equipped to improve them are the operators themselves.
  • In a crisis, quick and decisive action is generally much more effective than deliberate and delayed response.
  • Second-guessing the opinions of those in the front line is never done by good generals. If the actions taken by subordinates are wrong, you’ll know soon enough.

Robert Heller